Domenico Scarlatti is one of the most well known Italian Baroque composers. He is best known for his work on the keyboard sonatas. It is known that most of his life he worked for the royal families in Spain and France. While working for the royal family in Spain, he was able to compose over 500 sonatas. Dominico Scarlatti’s history and time spent in Spain has influenced his famous sonatas compositions that use the Spanish guitar style.
History of Domenico Scarlatti
Domenico Scarlatti was born on October 26, 1685 in Naples and died on July 23, 1757 in Madrid. It is known that he was the sixth born child out of ten. His father was a well-known composer named Alessandro Scarlatti. Domenico showed his musical talent at a very young age. This is the reason why his father introduced him to music. Other musical influences in his early years were Bernardo Pasquini, Francesco Gasparini, and Gaetano Greco. Bernardo Pasquini taught him the original skills he used to elaborate in his music. Francesco Gasparini taught him his unique solid science of music. This unique style caused Domenico to become the genius he was in composing music. When he was sixteen years old, Domenico was appointed as a composer at the chapel royal. While still working in Naples, Domenico helped Carlo Francesco Pollarolo by revising one of his operas called Irene. This is how he taught himself how to write operas.
In 1709, while he was working in Rome under the Polish queen, he was able to meet up with Thomas Roseingrave who was a famous author and composer at the time. In 1719, Domenico went to Lisbon where it is stated that he taught the Portuguese princess music. He left Lisbon and returned to Rome in 1727 where he married Caterina Gentili.
Life in Spain
Domenico went to live in Spain in 1729 because he was following Princess Maria who was married to the prince of Asturias. In the beginning, it is known that Domenico was working in Lisbon for the royals where he was teaching them music. Among those students was Maria. She was very interested in music and was very enthusiastic about it. She became an admirer of Domenico and, therefore, once she was married she took him along with her to Spain. Even when she became the queen of Spain, she continued with her music where it is believed she played a lot of harpsichord.
Scarlatti’s fame came when he went to live in Spain. While working under the royals, he was able to compose over five hundred sonatas. One of Scarlatti’s first harpsichord sonatas that were first published in 1738 was the one called the Esercizi per gravicembalo. In this publication, it is claimed that it contained thirty sonatas. Those series of sonatas were taught to Princess Maria. When she became the queen of Spain, it is claimed that the music of Spain changed in that it become more lavish. The reason why the music became lavish was the fact that the dance rhymes and the fork tunes resembled that of the gypsies and the Moorish. This made it easy for people to be able to dance to the tunes.
Domenico was very famous for composing over 500 sonatas while living and working in Madrid for the royals. Out of the 555 sonatas, only ten are made for the violin and continuo. There are three sonatas that are specifically made for the organ. The rest of the sonatas are made for the harpsichord. The sonatas that were made for the harpsichord are known to be characterized by the binary dance form through the extension of the tonal range. In the beginning, not all the sonatas that he composed were published. It took centuries for them to be published by different people.
In looking at the sonatas, they are all unique because of the varying styles and forms. This is the reason why many people have found them hard to perform. The performers are mesmerized by the unique style in that they do not know what they are going to do. According to people’s description of the sonatas, it shows that its structure is made up of two sections. In the two sections, they move from the tonic to the dominant key. The other section is that they move from the minor and go to the tonic key.
His knowledge of Harpsichord was due to the fact that he had taught himself at an early age. This is the reason why the sonatas that he composed came out the way it did in terms of beats and rhymes. The fame of his sonata was based on the brilliant virtuoso pieces that have the striking harmonies. The music has contrasts of texture and it has a bold dissonance. The music exploits the resources that come from the harpsichord. This fact, therefore, brings about an advantage to the feel of the sonatas. The sonatas are claimed to call upon the large, two manual harpsichord. This fact is the reason why the sonatas show that the composer had a great knowledge of the harpsichord.
In looking at the sonatas, there are those that are highly well-known and are considered to be great work of art. They are claimed to be very original and different in that it makes it mesmerizing to listen to it. In looking at the earlier sonatas that were composed by Domenico, it shows that the movements are fast. During the middle periods, the frequency of the movements was stated to be slower.
In the later years of his life, the sonatas that he composed the movements were leaner and the style was more concentrated. In looking at the published sonatas, it shows that the earlier ones were the ones made up of violin. The movements of the violin sonata are stated to be four. The section of the movement is usually in two types. The bulk of the music is usually in single movements.
According to researches, the style of Domenico has been influenced by the Iberian music. He used the Phrygian mode style of music. The tone of the music changes and, therefore, became unique to the European who are not used to this kind of music style. The dissonance and the figurations used in the sonatas caused it to be suggestive to the guitar.
The late sonatas that he composed are well known to be made up of the harpsichord. These late work was mainly influenced by the works of Franz Liszt and Frederic Chopin who composed their music using the piano. There are many people who have been influenced by the works of Domennico. An example of a person who was influenced by the music was J. S. Bach. One of his works that showed this influence was the Goldberg Variations.
Domenico was considered by many people to be an outsider when it came to his style of music. The reason for stating this was the way he transitioned his music to the classical era. The other reason for him being stated to be an outsider was that at that time when he was living in Spain, Italy was been considered to be the home of operas and music. In short, the meaning of this fact was that Italy was flourishing with fame when it came to composition of music or operas. On the hand, Spain did not have a large audience when it came to the history of music or art. This is the reason why most of the works that he did in Spain have not been published or told by many people.
In looking at his history, there are many gaps that have not been filled because people had no idea what he was doing in some certain number of years. This fact is the reason why the sonata that he composed that were not published proved to be a hurdle for some people to be able to interpret what he had done.
The music was not well understood but due to the fact that some of the sonatas become very popular has caused the works to be published. There is a school in Russian that teaches piano that has been greatly influenced by Domenico’s sonatas. The students in the school are taught music by using the works of Domenico. In looking at the works of Domenico, is it quite evident that the music has been greatly influenced by the works of Mozart and Gershwin.
Ralph Kirkpatrick has produced some of the sonatas and that is the reason why they are numbered with the K initials. Another person who published the sonatas was Giorgoi Pestelli. In this works, he revised the sonata and changed some of the things he believed not to be right. The revised work was numbered and given the initials P. The other works that have made him popular are the operas that he composed while in Spain. Some of those operas have been performed even when he was still alive.
The influence of the Spanish guitar
According to history, there has never been any mention of Domenico playing a guitar. However, some of the sonatas that he composed had the same resemblance as that of the guitar. While living in Spain Domenico was introduced to the Spanish guitar. He fell for the sound of the Spanish guitar, which to him it had a different sound. The baroque guitar at that time was made up of the lute and the viheula. This is what gave the guitar an earthier sound that was so loved by many people. The guitar had five courses with nine strings. This fact caused the music style to be simplified. The open strings brought about the harmonic structure of the Spanish guitar. This structure is what made the Spanish fork music to be unique and interesting. The unique sounds that came from the guitar influenced Domenico to imitate it when composing songs. One of the most famous Spanish guitarists that influenced Dominico was Gaspar Sanz.
Domenico Scarlatti was among the famous baroque music composers. He is well known for composing over five hundred sonatas while in Spain. In looking at his history, one is able to understand why he was able to become the genius in composing music. His father was a well-known and established composer. He started by teaching him music and he was also influenced by his musician brother. He showed interest in music at an early age and that is the real reason why his father taught him music. He was good in harpsichord at an early age. This influenced his compositions in later years. Eminent composers, musicians and authors surrounded him at an early age.
They were able to guide him and teach him everything they knew about music. He worked for the royals in different countries such as Portugal, France and Spain. When he worked in Lisbon, he was able to come into contact with Maria Barbara who was the Portuguese princess. She was very enthusiastic in learning music in that once married to a prince in Spain she took Domenico along with her. In Spain, that is where Domenico was able to compose all the 555 sonatas. He gained popularity in some of the sonatas he composed. The sonatas are well known for their uniqueness due to the use of harpsichord.
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